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Santa Claus and Christmas tree; Which One Comes First?

Updated on December 8, 2011
Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square, London
Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square, London | Source


The merry and festive celebration of the Christmas season doesn’t seem to be complete or right without Santa Claus and the Christmas tree. As such, it should be interesting to know the history of both.

Some people may have heard of stories about Santa Claus giving birth to the idea about having a Christmas tree in which presents can be placed underneath. Some of these stories even allude to Santa creating the Christmas tree and the practice of decorating it. In fact, these stories are not true at all. The history about Santa Claus and the Christmas tree are not related at all to each other.

Christmas Tree

The fact is that Christmas tree began to become the icon of Christmas celebration in the 1500s. It was German Christians who initiated the idea. This tradition was spreading out through all the cities of Germany and also throughout the world. Candles and other ornaments were the main decoration at the time. This practice and tradition has helped make the Christmas celebration much merrier. However, putting presents underneath the tree were not part of the Christmas celebration during those early times.

There decades later, the tradition was becoming a major activity in the Royal Kingdom of England. It was when the English Queen began to decorate her own Christmas tree in palace and celebrate Christmas that way. As it was the first time in England, lots of English people began imitating the tradition and it turned out to be a very popular way of celebrating Christmas. They used real pine trees with their fresh smell filling the house. This tradition was turning out to be popular way to celebrate Christmas among the British people and in most European countries. In America, the tradition was expanded by using a very high tree and even putting up similar trees on the front yard. The invention of lamps made the celebration merrier and the use of Christmas lights eventually got adopted.

Christmas Tree in National Theatre, Prague
Christmas Tree in National Theatre, Prague | Source
Christmas Tree in Germany
Christmas Tree in Germany | Source

Santa Claus

As for Santa Claus, during the 1800s, it could be said that he wasn't that mainstream yet. At least not in the current form and manner by which Santa Claus is known. There were variations of the concept of a Santa Claus in some cultures, such as St. Nicholas. Though these early beliefs would have an influence in the development of the modern day concept of Santa Claus. However, for most Christmas at that time was a purely religious celebration. Going to church, exchanging presents and having dinner on Christmas Eve were the widely practiced traditions. Santa Claus wasn’t one of those traditions at all until some stores started to begin promoting their products as Christmas gifts to be given by Santa Claus.

By the beginning of the 1900’s, the tradition of using festive lamps to decorate high pine trees as well as Santa Claus bringing presents for kids back at home was getting more and more popular. In time, Santa Claus and the Christmas tree became connected in a way it never was in the past. No matter the history, present day Christmas celebration is no longer complete without both Santa Claus and the Christmas tree.



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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I had no idea about the relationship between Santa and Christmas trees. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      Nice backgroud story of how Santa Claus become such an icon of Christmas celebration. Love your picture as usual. Rated up.

    • moiragallaga profile image

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you Derdriu. Early in life I thought both Santa and Christmas trees always came together, part of one narrative. I later find out this isn't the case, and the way the present-day narrative has evolved from earlier customs and practices has been an interesting topic for me.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      Moira Gallaga: What an clear, interesting, timely summary of the incorporation of Christmas trees and Santa Claus into Christmas celebrations! The text is succinct, and the photos illustrative.

      Thank you for sharing, etc.,